It’s not often one gets to understand what goes on behind the scenes in a business partnership but the team at so-sure wanted to do just that; they asked the co-founders of the UK’s top startups based on their experience, what advice would they give to entrepreneurs wanting to run a business with someone else. Here’s what they said…
Kate Buckett |OneFifty Consultancy
Katie is a digital brand communications expert, with experience working both in and for global and UK organisations. Katie and her co-founder Alex Pearmain set up OneFifty together in 2015.
You should always look at what your weaknesses or shortfalls are, and does you partner have those things that you don’t – you need someone to think differently to you so you are able to come it at things in a rounded way. It may mean that sometimes don’t see eye to eye but most of the time that will get you where you want to be. We do feedback sessions every week because we don’t get appraisals and I know that I respond really well to feedback and need external validation, whereas Alex doesn’t so much. However, we both know what each other needs in order to motivate one another.
Pip Wilson | amicable
Pip Wilson is the co-founder of amicable. She is an entrepreneur and technology expert who is passionate about using technology to tackle social issues. She founded amicable with business partner, Kate Daly.
Have the discussion about equity really early on. If you can’t agree on that or if it becomes a difficult conversation later on, then it could be a deal breaker. If you have the same background and same skills then I would question whether the sum is going to be greater than two parts. Make sure you take the time to clearly define what you are both contributing. You must clear on what your roles are, so you avoid challenging that further down the line. If you’re both desperate to own the same part of the business then that’s not going to work.
Lilia Stoyanov | Transformify
A chief executive officer and angel investor at Transformify. Lilia is A fintech and digital transformation expert, she is also a professor at Zigurat Business School and expert evaluator Horizon 2020 at the European Commission. She founded Transformify in 2015 with her business partner and CTO, Desislav Kamenov.
We were colleagues at our old job and worked together for five years, I was a general manager and CFO and he was in the IT department – we weren’t directly working with each other but we were in the same circle of friends. So we knew each other before we started the business. The business idea came to me when I was still employed and finding a business partner wasn’t easy. It took many meetings and conversations with a lot of people until I decided on Desislav.
Tom Gatzen | Ideal Flatmate
Tom is the operations and marketing director of Ideal flatmate which he co-founder with business partner Rob Imonikhe in February 2017.
I would say it it imperative to get to know the person on a personal level for a significant period of time before jumping into a business partnership. One of our investors always says that the relationship between business partners is very similar to that of your girlfriend/wife, and I definitely spend more time with Rob these days than my girlfriend! I also think the key factor is trust. If you know you have each others backs no matter what, that is a great basis for a business partnership.
Rachel Hugh | the Vurger co
Rachel, alongside co-founder Neil Potts, founded The Vurger Co in 2016. The Vurger Co’s mission is to revolutionise fast food forever through the power of plants.
It’s like a marriage, so think very very carefully about who that person is, what their values are and that you understand each other’s goals. Also always ensure that you have defined and clear roles and that ultimately you trust each other and respect each others opinion no matter what.
Alex Bodini | Spinbrands
Alex is co-founder of Spin Brands, a social and digital marketing agency specialising in SMEs & Startups. Having previously worked in large agencies, Alex met his co-founder in more entrepreneurial ventures and created Spin Brands to serve a huge gap in the market.
Do it, but trust your gut. We had so many people tell us that partnerships were dangerous but we went for it as we knew it was right. You do hear a lot of horror stories so be very careful you trust the other person – they have to bring as much to the table as you do, but if you do find it and it works, it could be the best decision you’ll make.
Gauthier Van Malderen | Perlego
Gauthier is the co-founder of London-based Perlego which aims to tackle one of the biggest pain points for students with its e-book subscription service for textbooks. Gauthier and his co-founder Matthew Davis set up Perlego in 2016.
Find someone you trust. For me, something that’s really important is when everything is going well it’s easy but when things are tough and you have a crisis those are the really difficult moments. So find someone that you can really count on in the difficult moments above everything else.
Matthew de la Hey | Inploi
Matthew is co-founder & CEO of inploi, a cutting-edge recruitment/HR-tech platform based in London. He set up inploi with Alex Hanson-Smith, and Chris Mackie in 2015.
You should really get to know them well beforehand. We were really lucky, in that we were friends, but we didn’t know each other all that well. Thankfully it has worked out extraordinarily well. In hindsight that was a crazy thing to do. You’re going to be spending the majority of your working day (and more) for about 3- 4-5 / 10 years with this person so you should be pretty sure that you know who they are and that you’re prepare and want to do that. I think it’s important to make things explicit, don’t ever let people assume things – if there’s room for interpretation that can cause problems. And finally communicate; have the difficult conversations.
Tessa Clarke | OLIO
Tessa and Saasha Celestial-One are the co-founders of OLIO, a free app which harnesses the power of mobile technology and the sharing economy to provide a revolutionary new solution to the problem of food waste.
Entering into a business partnership is not something to be undertaken lightly – done well it can be one of the greatest strengths of your business; done poorly it can completely derail or even destroy the business. Therefore I would strongly recommend spending lots of time together, ideally working on a project, and ensuring that there is plenty of upfront discussion about roles and responsibilities, working styles, decision making processes, ownership stakes and communications expectations.
Sara Trechman | Well & Truly
Sara and her sister-in-law Maria founded Well & Truly in 2015. It offers a range of delicious but healthy tortilla chips, cheese sticks and gazpacho drinks are all-natural and gluten-free.
Do it! It’s the best thing we’ve ever done. We both say that we couldn’t have done it on our own, being able to share the journey with someone has made all the ups and downs so much better. Also challenging each other on a daily basis has enabled us to make better decisions faster. In addition to being co-founders we have a great network & team around us to help guide us and offer advice when we need it.
Alice Holden | Attollo Lingerie
Alice is this director and co-founder of Attollo Lingerie which caters for D+ cupped figures. She runs the business with co-founder, Fleurette Mulcahy.
Be really sure of the person you’re working with because we have heard of many stories of people who haven’t gotten along. We are very lucky that there is a lot of trust, and we are both equally as involved, passionate and invested in the business; we are 50/50 partners. My number one advice is you should never be in a partnership if you’re not 50/50 – it will only end one way and that’s badly. Two is that you need to be certain that you are both equally invested. It’s also all about trust and communication – although we are not like always talking on the phone, we are always sharing documents and communicating through whatever medium.
Jasmine Eilfield | Expocart
Jasmine is the co-founder of ExpoCart which she set up with Ryan Farquson. The startup is on a one-way mission to reinvent the way people discover, hire and buy products for their exhibitions.
I’d definitely recommend that you have known the person for a while before going into business with them as the worst thing to do is dive straight into a business relationship with someone who you don’t have that level of trust and mutual understanding of. Definitely look at your different personality traits and skill sets to make sure you can both contribute in different ways to the business otherwise you’ll be treading on each others toes which won’t work well.